We’re so excited to bring you another Madama Butterfly cast feature! Today, it’s Butterfly herself – meet Eleni Calenos!
What led you to a career in performing?
I grew up studying music, majoring in violoncello performance and singing in my conservatory’s choir ensembles, from the age of seven. Consequently, performing was part of my life from very early on. Performing opera, however, came a bit later. I had already started a career as a cellist, and also as a singer of Greek/ethnic music. At the time, I felt the urge to train and study vocal technique in order to avoid developing harmful habits, but after the first few lessons, I realized my potential for opera, and there was no return!
Why do you love opera?
I love opera because it helps me express myself and my whole dynamic like nothing else. It forces me to put a mirror in front of me, to explore and get to know myself better. It also enables me to offer my talent, contribute and have an immediate impact to an audience. This instant gratification I am feeling by doing what I love makes me love opera even more.
Do you have any advice for aspiring performers?
Love. Commitment. If you listen to your inner voice and your calling, be prepared for hard work and long term commitment in order to master your craft. Amazing results are not achieved without putting many hours of the right type of work.
Tell us about the character you play in Madama Butterfly.
I am singing/playing the role of Cio-Cio San, which is considered one of the most challenging and demanding roles in the soprano repertoire. To me, Cio-Cio San is a lonely fighter in life. At the age of fifteen, she decides to marry an American naval officer in Japan of 1904, breaking away from her tradition and religion, and willing to embrace and explore what is new and foreign to her. Even though so young, and vulnerable, she is very strong and dignified. She leads her life with an intense sense of responsibility and honor, and she believes that Pinkerton will return to her and their son. After a three year long waiting period, and after she realizes that her expectations will not materialize, and that she can no longer lead an honorable life, she takes her own life, so that she can at least have an honorable death. Even though I do not identify completely with her character, there are so many elements that I find in common. I truly find her strength moving and fascinating.
What do you have coming up after Madama Butterfly?
This summer, I will be singing Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il Tabarro with the Opera Company of Middlebury, VT. Then, in the fall, follows a premiere of a new opera in Wiesbaden, Germany.
If you could play any role (regardless of voice part, gender, etc.), what role would it be?
The role I would choose is Iago, just because of its complexity and nuance that it demands.
Do you have any pre-show rituals/are you superstitious when it comes to theatre?
I am not superstitious at all. I simply try to be well prepared before that moment arrives. Being well rested, stretched and well fed is important, as well as staying silent and calm before the time of the performance.
Other than opera, what are you listening to now? (What’s on your iPod?)
I mostly listen to my Pandora online radio, and my stations include jazz, ethnic, rock and classical music.
What do you do for fun/what hobby or interest do you enjoy outside of performing?
Watching films, reading, cooking, taking long walks, and traveling are things that I enjoy outside of performing.
Want to keep up with Eleni? Check out her website, and get your tickets to see her in Madama Butterfly this weekend!